Roasting Coffee On the Cheap
I’ve been meaning to make a post about how to roast your own coffee. When I first started looking into it I was shocked at the costs of some of the roaster. There’s a few different types, many that are DIY roasters, make use of your propane grill and so forth. However, I was not interested in spending hundreds of dollars on a roaster. Yes, the big roasters can roast a lot of coffee at once and I suppose that is the trade off, but enter the Nuvo Coffee roaster. As you might imagine it does small batches, so if you need to roast 5 lbs of coffee at once this probably isn’t going to work for you. One thing for sure, you definitely will want to do this outside as there will be a good amount of smoke, especially true if you’re going for medium and dark roasts.
Roasting coffee is pretty straightforward as it is very similar to popping popcorn, but does require more heat to roast. When I began roasting coffee I would use an IR thermometer to check the temp, once the temperature reached around 450 F it was ready to roast. Now that I have been roasting coffee for a year I know about how long to wait before adding the coffee beans. Roasting the beans to a dark roast, which is what I prefer takes around 9-12 minutes.
You want to frequently shake the roast so you do not burn the coffee beans. Listen for the first pop’s from the beans (I did say it was similar to popping popcorn right?), this is called the first crack. The frequency of popping will increase, during this phase you can reach light and medium roasts. When the popping becomes very frequent (quieter pops than at the beginning) with smoke coming out of the roaster you have reached dark roast. At that point you can remove from heat and then empty the beans into a strainer and this is the messy part. The strainer is used to remove the skin, known as chaff, off the beans. You will definitely want to do this outside or over a trash can. From there you can put the roaster back on the heat and start another batch.
The pros to this method is there is less upfront costs. The butane grill I already had for camping and that particular grill costs somewhere between $20-30 and the butane fuel canisters are only $3 per can. One can of butane can usually roast an entire 5 lb bag of unroasted coffee beans. The Nuvo coffee roaster should run you less than $40. The unroasted coffee itself should average out to $7-8 per pound after roasting, so yes, it is more expensive than coffee at the grocery store but you have to keep in mind that coffee at the store was probably roasted 3-4 months ago or longer and the freshness of the roast will be very evident. The coffee is best after 24 hours after roasting and stays fresh for a couple weeks, so in one way it might be better to do smaller batches after all.